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Author Topic: Topic Framing Warnings  (Read 6992 times)
jbhoe
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« on: April 08, 2010, 03:56:44 PM »

Hello All,

Look this last topic worked out well but for a few major problems and a gigantic amount of luck.  Please consider this when putting together wordings for next year.

Please Make the Affirmative do something controversial - We got sooooo lucky that the NPR did not come out prior to the National Tournaments.  It was within weeks of the end of the tournament season that the largest case on the topic (and virtually the same plan text my squad ran all year) was passed.  In a world where this had happened PRIOR to the NDT the negative would have been left with the K, wording CPs with absurd net benefits, and NU Da's.  It is nice to let the affirmative be one with the left but with a DEMOCRATIC administration it is playing with fire. Do not let hubris and the desire to be "nice" overcome the necessity of a good and fair division of ground that can last for the entire year. 

There is a second reason to consider this: One of the major arguments for debating this topic originally was the Prague Speech by Obama followed by adopting a topic that was in the exact same direction as the Prague speech.  This allowed a great deal of the topic to devolve from discussion of the larger policy concerns to very minute debates over the best wording for the plan (see the last two months of every major nuclear blog).  The problem with this is that debate becomes an offense/defense race to the bottom where absurd and unpredictable net benefits rule the day. By adopting a topic in the same direction as administration plans it crreated a very odd literature based in minutae over things that made wording pics unduly powerful and holes in the literature on these pics devestatingly unbalanced from week to week.





I truly hope someone is listening....people will say but Aff should get flex and that those CPs are awesome for debate....I think these are really weak arguments and we are truly lucky there was not a pre-NDT disaster this year.









Josh

















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RGarrett
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2010, 12:29:20 AM »

I think that you are correct that going the same direction as Obama policies did pose unique problems, however I was curious if there were specific controversy papers that you were concerned about.  I can imagine immigration might have this problem given Obama has said he'd like to push something through (especially if the midterms were to go well).  I would think that a conservative mechanism would solve this problem on that particular topic.

I'm asking about this because I think it is fairest to controversy paper writers that these concerns are brought up while they still have a chance to do significant work to address such issues in their paper.
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jbhoe
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2010, 02:20:41 AM »

If you are doing the research on a topic area...and you don't know which way the Administration leans on it...You probably ought re-investigate?

If I am misunderstanding, feel free to inform me,

Josh
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kelly young
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2010, 08:16:13 AM »

Josh said: "It is nice to let the affirmative be one with the left but with a DEMOCRATIC administration it is playing with fire. Do not let hubris and the desire to be "nice" overcome the necessity of a good and fair division of ground that can last for the entire year."

To be "one with the left" is hardly a reason the committee has used in the past in framing a resolution. The desire to stick the affirmative with a highly controversial mechanism often creates just as many ground problems, but just flips it onto the affirmative. Or, it causes many affirmatives to flee to the far corners of the topic to find something more defensible, which isn't particularly good for ground either.

In fairness, on the last topic, NFU was a controversial idea when the topic paper was crafted. Sometimes the unexpected happens. Crafting that topic to be more conservative--to increase deterrence--would have posed more uniqueness problems.

Kelly
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dokeenan
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2010, 10:19:39 AM »

There probably are some changes to the topic process that can improve topic outcomes, but I think they will quickly reach diminishing returns.

First, pre-topic research doesn’t model the depth and breadth of research after the topic is announced. I doubt that it ever can because people aren’t as invested in the work and don’t have the same available time. More importantly, research before the announcement is tailored to learning and word choice. After the topic people figure out how to use that wording to screw the aff by effectively doing the plan. I don’t know how we can really alter this research mismatch.

Second, problems can never be fully anticipated until debates start occurring. Remember amendment on the courts topic or engagement on the China topic. These turned out to be big problems in a way unanticipated by the topic committee. Same for the NPR and other recommendation counterplans on this topic.

The ultimate solution has to be policing the negative. Affs have to be willing to go for theory and judges have to be willing to vote on it. This probably won’t happen, but it is the only viable solution. Unanticipated problems with the topic and crafty negatives that don’t want to engage the advantages will always exist, no matter what we do with topic wording. If we don’t actively manage the topic’s development with theory and T debates we will face the same problems.

As for Josh’s point, link uniqueness debates are annoying but I think the punch is less than we anticipate. Good negatives explain their disad to get around them. They really only matter when the affirmative is small. A willingness to vote on T is a better solution than forcing the aff to be controversial.
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antonucci23
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2010, 02:51:48 PM »

If you are doing the research on a topic area...and you don't know which way the Administration leans on it...You probably ought re-investigate?

If I am misunderstanding, feel free to inform me,

Josh

I think what Mr. Garrett is saying is that your point is well-received, but applies to some controversies more than others.

For example, Senate rules mean treaties probably won't pass.  At most, one of them will.  Real big action in space probably requires either Republican votes in the Senate or lots of money, and neither appear to be forthcoming in the foreseeable future.

Obama could pass some pretty big deal immigration legislation, though.

It would thus appear that your point's largely directed at immigration - other topics seem to have really compelling answers to "the whole topic will pass" concern.

You might have some concern about other possible topics that we're missing, though.  If so, please tell us so that the topic authors can correct.  While the authors certainly know which way the Administration leads, you might expedite that research process. 

It would also improve this particular discussion.  Empirics are good - but, you know, topic authors and voters seem to spend a lot of time fighting yesterday's wars.
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izak
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« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2010, 03:31:30 PM »

The ultimate solution has to be policing the negative. Affs have to be willing to go for theory and judges have to be willing to vote on it. [...]If we don’t actively manage the topic’s development with theory and T debates we will face the same problems[...]A willingness to vote on T is a better solution than forcing the aff to be controversial.

and Inherency!   Roll Eyes
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stables
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« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2010, 01:49:33 AM »

A quick note - The Nuclear posture controversy paper was clear in contending that despite the challenge of working in the direction of a lot of the perceived SQ there were benefits both internal to the debates (active literature base, dynamic arguments, etc.) there were also outside benefits to engaging a question that was so timely (i.e., visibility of our research and our activity).

Regardless of your feelings of the merit of these views, it should be clear that the authors made the view clear and the community voted for this controversy with those ideas front and center. I encourage future authors to similarly make their views known on such matters and to let the community decide as they see fit.
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Gordon Stables
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Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
jbhoe
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2010, 05:54:21 PM »

Look folks you are listening but not hearing me:

Gordon - there is a MONSTER difference between anticipating uniqueness problems and the meat of the topic passing two weeks after Nationals wrapped.  If the anniversary of the Prague speech had been prior to the end of the NDT the champion would have been determined on the basis of who won coin tosses.  My argument is NOT that it should be a less-timely topic but rather that the Affirmative should have to do the opposite of what the current Administration is likely to do.  In other words, why would it have been any less timely to make the affirmative increase instead of decrease deterrence?

Kelly - There is a benefit to making the affirmative do something controversial...The affirmative needs to be inherent and the negative has to be unique...In other words, switching controversy to the aff has a net benefit...what is the disadvantage?  Only that nobody should be forced to defend naughty government actions (Massey et al - see edebate). 

Other message - you are missing the point...this was not a  minor change that good debaters could explain their way around to still win U for their DA's.....It was the topic....The NPR basically did the topic, and in ways that it would be absurd to say did not cause the links to the major disads.  Most of it was done in a way that did not require congressional passage. 

Josh

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jbhoe
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2010, 05:56:26 PM »

Nucc,

Obviously, if a topic is being proposed where the concern I raise isn't applicable....don't worry about my concern?

Josh
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kelly young
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2010, 07:34:10 PM »

So Josh,

When you claim that no one is hearing you, does that license you to completely ignore arguments against your concern?

Past history: Indians topic: we made the aff be "mean" to Native populations. The result? People ran as far as possible from regulating Indian country in a way that was controversial. This destroyed neg ground and caused the topic to be bidirectional in many ways. This flips all your ground arguments.

Past history: Energy topic: we forced aff's to top-down regulate, killed aff ground as the neg got the best strat possible, voluntary CP with Biz Con DA. Yes, you guaranteed uniqueness for the neg, you killed the aff (yes, Galloway will have data that says win/loss is 50%, but that has far more due with judges, skill of the debates, etc. You can't possibly tell me that that neg strat wasn't awesome on that topic precisely because of the wording of the topic).

Last topic: when the topic was proposed, it wasn't even on the radar that NFU would pass. It was highly controversial. To attempt to run "increase deterrence" aff's would have even be less unique until the NPR came out. Until then, it was every week that the administration announced its unwavering support for US nuclear deterrence.

Empirical lesson: you can't use the topic wording to control which direction the aff will go. As previously mentioned, unless people will start voting on T more rigorously, people will flee to the margins to avoid your controversial topic (and that's including most mainstream teams). When you overcorrect to make the Aff be too controversial, the negative has too good of ground.

And thanks for the lesson on uniqueness and inherency. Your novel concepts are new to me...

Kelly
« Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 08:01:23 PM by kelly young » Logged

Director of Forensics/Associate Professor
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jbhoe
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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2010, 02:11:47 PM »

Hello Kelly,

I am not ignoring your response we are talking about different phenomena that are related but not causal.  What do you mean crazy Josh?

These cases you refer to were NOT the bulk of the topics you describe (and let us be honest, the Indians topic sucked all the way around) and on this topic there were a percentage of "non-topical" performance affirmatives as well (this topic being Nukes).  The people who run "non-topical" performance affirmatives are not going to be big T topical if you are nice or mean to whoever the topics object is.  OUs and Fullerton's K teams will not suddenly embrace the DA and start reading a Topical plan based on if we are nice to natives in the wording or mean to natives in the wording (something about how the usfg is always bad as I remember).  Is your argument really that if the affirmative gets liberal ground K teams will run topical plans and answer DAs?  My argument was about non-K teams and the problems created when the President really could do the Topic.  In this particular instance, all of the teams that did the topic would have been in a total nightmare if the NPR had been two weeks earlier.  I am not trying to "control which way the aff goes" I am saying "topic framers - please make sure that you write topics that the current administration will not pass."

Your energy topic example could be solved a billion ways (aside from the fact that there are/were great answers to voluntary) .  If your argument is it would have been a better topic if it had been dereg and Bush was doing dereg I think there are still probably ways to do the topic using mechanisms that were different than likely Bush methods of deregulation.

My point is that you should be cognizant of the administration...not that you should hard-wire bad mechanisms.  Not sure we disagree?


Josh



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